Success Has No Age Limit

06 March 2024

In a society that is terrified of aging, it can be difficult to remember that your life doesn’t end after your twenties. The job you are in doesn’t have to be yours forever. Your home doesn’t have to be where you live for the rest of your life. YOU create your own life and your own path.

Iconic fashion designer Vera Wang is a prime example of this. The daughter of Shanghainese immigrants, Wang grew up in New York City where she attended the School of American Ballet and had a passion for figure skating. She began skating from a very young age, attending the 1968 U.S. National Championship but ultimately failed to make the 1968 Winter Olympics. The upset ended her athletic career, but ultimately opened the door to another: fashion.

Feeling lost, she decided to do a semester of college in Paris where she realized she was passionate about fashion. After she graduated from college, she began working for Condé Nast’s Vogue magazine where at just the age of 23, she became the company’s youngest senior fashion editor. After 17 years in the role, she became the design director for Ralph Lauren.

However, her life changed when she got engaged at 39 and faced a unique challenge. She was older than the majority of brides looking for dresses and could not find anything that she liked. Her business-minded father saw an opportunity in the problem. The bridal market had few fabrics, low inventory, and a steady stream of customers, which encouraged Wang to jump in.

But how could she? In her previous roles, she focused heavily on styling and designing but never dabbled in dress design. From watching her coworkers at her jobs, she knew just how challenging running and sustaining a complete business can be. But at 40 years old, Wong opened a New York Bridal shop and debuted her line of gowns.

It wasn’t easy. She had to leave her whole world and everything she knew behind. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, she said, “When I left Ralph, a lot of doors that had been open to me slammed shut, whether it was a fabric manufacturer or a party I wanted to go to because I was now so small.” But, she felt passionate that she wanted to make a difference in the bridal industry and that is exactly what she did.

Today, Wang is known for stunning wedding dresses and red carpet looks. She has dressed everyone from style icon Victoria Beckham to First Lady Michelle Obama. If she had never left her career at Ralph Lauren behind, the world would not have known the renowned Vera Wang we know today. All it takes is faith in yourself and one decision to change your life.

When asked about advice to people looking to make a jump in their career, Wang said in the interview with CNBC:

“Just because everyone’s against it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. And regret is far worse than never having tried and worse than failure”.

It is never too late to make a change in your life. You may never feel 100% ready to make a change, but you will never know what could happen if you don’t give yourself a chance.

“There have been a million days where I said to myself, ‘What was I thinking?’ or ‘Why did I do this?’” Wang says. “But there have been way more days where I felt extremely lucky to be doing something that I love so much and learning new lessons as not only [as an] designer but as an entrepreneur every day.”